Shopping for a wedding dress should be just as joyous, welcoming, and self-expressive as the occasion you’re celebrating. But — spoiler — that isn’t always the case, considering limited sizing options, a myriad of obstacles to physically go into a store, and good old gate-keeping (why is pricing info so hard to find?). But there’s a group of innovative, creative and talented Asian American bridal designers out there changing the industry landscape with dreamy styles, fresh ideas and new ways to shop for your big day gown (or jumpsuit or crop top and shorts — like, you be you).
First, there’s a style for everyone, across all budgets, from Andrew Kwon’s spectacular new glamour to Ceremony by KkCo’s cool bride aesthetic, which covers you from civil ceremony to elopement to beach nuptials at sunset. But more importantly, the brand makes it easy to find your ideal look. For instance, at-home try-on kits help you throw your own fitting party with friends and family (or solo) in your most comfortable locale. Nova by Enaura’s online shop offers similar convenience with a dress builder that guides you through taking your own accurate measurements and customizing a dress to perfectly fit you — literally and figuratively.
Designers also look to their heritage for design inspiration. For example: the handcrafted Indian beadwork on Nova by Enaura’s gowns, or the way East Meets Dress bridges Chinese and Vietnamese wedding traditions with a contemporary Asian American style flair. And Kwon celebrates his Korean immigrant mother, who happily remarried in her late 50s, with his exuberant designs. “It showed a lot of resilience in her. It was a new day for her,” says Kwon. “She was a big inspiration and I wanted to create that same confidence and the same beautiful memories for other women out there, too.”
Inclusion is also important to this new wave of bridal industry creatives, particularly in the case of KkCo’s founder Kara Jubin (whose new Las Vegas elopement-themed collection campaign will put a smile on your face). “I don’t want to put myself into a box,” she says. “That’s how we run KkCo.”
Ahead, check out six AAPI designers changing the face of bridal — and helping you find your dream wedding look.
The Parsons grad brings Hollywood glamour to the wedding aisle with his self-named collection. “Since I was young, I’ve always found the red carpet incredibly beautiful,” says Kwon, who trained at celebrity-beloved Vera Wang and Marchesa. His signatures include intricate bodice work, with architectural plays on corsetry, fluttering tulle layers and inventive strap-work — “butterfly thin straps,” as he likes to say — accented with metallic embroideries and florals. Produced in New York City’s Garment District, his second collection introduced lush, romantic colors inspired by the sun-dappled rolling hills in Provence and the Mediterranean Sea off Marseilles, all on silhouettes you really can wear again. “I have been telling clients, ‘if you want, wear it to any event,’” says Kwon.
Sizing: 0 to 24
General price range: $5,000 to $10,000
Customization services: available depending on style (custom design is also an option)
“Wedding dresses for kickass women,” says Tina Wong, repeating the tagline for her direct-to-consumer brand, which she founded after her own less-than-ideal bridal shopping experience. So, all Grace + Ivory dresses — from easy, flowing A-lines to romantic lace-embroidered gowns with chapel trains to a majestic caped mermaid silhouette in a sumptuous silk crepe — are made-to-measure to fit any shape and size. The gowns are also customizable, based on style (i.e., moving a neckline, shortening a hemline, changing sleeve length, etc.). The popular at-home try-on service allows clients to fit samples at home before purchasing. Plus, a give-back component donates 10% of the proceeds from each dress sold to a cause supporting women’s safety and professional development. “Our focus is advocating for women’s rights, raising women’s voices and building a really collaborative and supportive bridal brand,” says Wong.
Sizing: made-to-measure for any size
General price range: $1,200 to $2,500
Customization services: available depending on style
After encountering challenges in finding a cheongsam (a high-neck Chinese gown traditionally worn for weddings, or “qipao” in Mandarin) that also met her contemporary style taste, Vivian Chan co-founded East Meets Dress with her best friend Jenn Qiao. “We wanted something that was high quality that really spoke to the modern Asian American woman,” says the Los Angeles-based Chan. After launching with a handful of cheongsam styles, the direct-to-consumer brand quickly expanded with chic Vietnamese ao dai tunic and trouser-sets, plus groomswear honoring both cultures. While standard styles are available for immediate shipping, bespoke cheongsam and ao dai categories offer customizations, including different colors, train-length, back covering, and more, depending on the style. Samples are available for at-home try-ons, plus, the site provides helpful etiquette and how-to-wear tutorials. “We have a pet collection, which is pretty cute as well,” says Chan.
Sizing: made-to-measure for any size for the bespoke collection; XS to 2XL, depending on style for the standard size collection
General price range: $450 to $1,200 from the bespoke collection; $200 to $400 for the standard size collection
Customization services: available depending on style and category
In 2019, Kara Jubin launched her made-in-Los Angeles brand KkCo (pronounced “kay-koh”) with an asymmetrical, blocked and ruffled sheer organza dress, christened Nine Twenty-Seven. Ever since, she’s received requests for wedding-versions of the evergreen style, which snowballed into interest for more bridal-iterations of her L.A. cool kid pieces. “It wasn’t just for weddings, it was for elopements or bridal showers or just ceremonies,” says Jubin, also explaining the inspiration for the name of her bridal line. The forever collection, which she’ll add to when new ideas organically arise, feature big day-interpretations of her trademarks, like easy slips, a sailor collar babydoll frock with 3D floral embellishments, oversized suiting, and a delicate polka dotted, puff-sleeve and flounce-tiered dress (with a matching veil — swoon). Producing the line in Los Angeles, Jubin also works with clients on preferred customizations, like fabrics and dress elements.
Sizing: XS to XXXL, plus custom-sizing upon request
General price range: $395 to $1,695
Customization services: available depending on the style
In the midst of an outdoor wedding boom in the summer of 2021, Brenna Simmons launched her nature-inspired and sustainably minded line, Nordeen. Romantic slip silhouettes, a high-low A-line with side-cut-outs and dramatic ivory cape, in a plush georgette wool texture, all speak to romantic garden and beach ceremonies. Plus, a capsule of interchangeable separates, like a caped v-neck crop top, a bandeau with detachable, ribbon-accented cap-sleeves and tailored trousers speak to the flexibility today’s clientele want and need. “From a micro-ceremony, to an elopement, to a full reception, and everything in between, the collection can be worn with versatility throughout,” says Simmons. The brand also emphasizes transparency; listing the natural materials used and certifications, plus highlighting partners in the manufacturing process on the website. “It is my belief that everything that makes up this day, including what you wear, should be a reflection of how it makes you feel, where it comes from, what it’s made out of, and who made it,” says Simmons.
Sizing: 0 to 12
General price range: $395 to $5,690
Customization services: limited, but available upon request and at the designer’s discretion
“We’re just trying to bring a true traditional experience from a retail store to online,” says Sohil Mistry, who launched direct-to-consumer Nova by Enaura with his bridal retail veteran wife, Nayha Anand in February 2022. (Fun fact: The two actually met during a work event at the legendary Kleinfeld Bridal.) Clients can build their own gown via a dress builder app to enjoy made-to-measure sizing and customizations, including modular skirt silhouettes. Try-on kits, featuring QR codes to reach a dedicated stylist, allow for the luxury salon experience at home. Nova launched with nine styles, like a draped off-the-shoulder mermaid with an exposed corset back, a scoop neck A-line, with bead-embellished back and a slip with delicate cut-outs. “Our next collection includes separates, like crop tops and detachable skirts,” says Anand. “More fun stuff will come into play.” Nova also offers hand-beaded veils for rental, along with purchase.
Sizing: made-to-measure for any size
General price range: $2,000 to $2,500+
Customization services: available, depending on style